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Three Stations: An Arkady Renko Novel    by Martin Cruz Smith order for
Three Stations
by Martin Cruz Smith
Order:  USA  Can
Simon & Schuster, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Fans have enthusiastically followed tormented investigator Arkady Renko's trials, tribulations and stubborn determination for decades, starting with the famed Gorky Park and continuing through Polar Star, Red Square, Havana Bay, Wolves Eat Dogs, and Stalin's Ghost. The latter was set in a modern Moscow dominated by the Russian Mafia and rife with police corruption, personified in Renko's boss, Prosecutor Zurin.

As Three Stations opens, Senior Investigator Renko is very much alone, now that physician Eva Kazka has given up on him ('I will not wait around until they kill you') and young Zhenya (the boy he mentored in Wolves Eat Dogs) has taken refuge in an abandoned casino. Aside from saving Sergeant Victor Orlov from his drunken self, Arkady has little to do since his boss assigns him no investigations - 'No investigations meant no runaway investigations.' Arkady has also helped a new neighbour across the hall, journalist Anya Rudikova.

Readers - and Arkady - follow two main investigative threads in Three Stations. The first involves fifteen-year-old Maya, who was forced into prostitution. She flees the Russian mob with her three week old baby girl on a train to Moscow. Before the trip ends, her baby is stolen by an old woman pretending to help her. Desperately seeking her lost infant, Maya jumps from frying pan to fire to inferno. Along the way, she comes into Zhenya's orbit. He tries to help, and eventually persuades her to talk to Renko.

Arkady also assists with Victor's investigation of a dead young woman found in a workers' trailer at Moscow's Three Stations - the bosses want Victor to close the case and move on. But Arkady finds a VIP pass to a Nijinsky Luxury Fair ('a night with millionaires') at the crime scene and decides to attend. There he encounters Anya, who introduces him to 'one of the country's wealthiest men'. Arkady learns the identity of the dead woman. And though Zurin finally succeeds in engineering his dismissal, he continues to investigate.

It does all work out in the end, though not without several close shaves for Arkady Renko. But he's eventually reinstated, the villains in both cases get their due, and baby Katya is reunited with her young mother, Maya. Don't miss Three Stations. I am always happy to spend reading time in Arkady Renko's Russia, and look forward to more.

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